Talent Show 
Sunday, November 16, 2008, 08:10 AM - Sermon
Matthew 25:14-30

Talent originally meant a measure of weight. So a talent of gold or silver was used as a measure of money. The exact weight of a talent varies from 60 to over a 100 pounds. So a talent was a large amount of money.

From the original meaning of weight, talent has come to mean a skill or ability due to this parable. I think it is helpful to keep the original meaning in mind when talking about the current meaning of talent.

Having a talent can be a weighty thing. Two of the servants in this story worked one buried it. Got it off his hands, no longer worried about it. Knew how much had, not like stock. There is something to be said for burying a talent, no gain, but no risk either. Free from using it.

Procrastination is one way to bury talent. Keeping the work buried until the last minute to keep from doing your best you put off the work, the project, or the job until you have to dig it up at the last minute and turn it in. I didn't have much time. I could have done better. Risk avoidance.

Saving it is another way to bury talent. Saving is not encouraged in the Bible, the Hebrews are not allowed to save Manna, the disciples are to take only the bare necessities on their journey, parables talk about the futility of building large barns…when the trust is in things to save us instead of God to provide us, hoarding things is seen as not trusting God.

The two that get the larger amounts are treated the same way. They doubled their original gifts are praised and given even more. The reward for good work? More work!

One servants buries his talent. He does this not out of desire that is the best course in uncertain economic times, but out of the belief that his master is harsh, and reacts in fear of a demanding God not faith in a generous God. He gives back to this master exactly what the master gave him. No more or no less. The master is not pleased.

Next month, Sam Sapp is giving us a taste of next year's Sunday School using Joan of Arcadia television shows. In this television show, Joan, a high school student, is directed by God again and again to unearth their talents. She is directed to be a cheerleader, join the chess club, the debate club, work on the yearbook, get an after school job and build a boat. Each time she invests in a new talent ripples of God's love reach out and move the world closer to God's kingdom.

Imagine a Christmas when you get a gift. It is familiar then you realize that it is the exact same gift you gave the person last year! You've been regifted! The box is unopened, the gift unused. Are you even? It gift calculus run by some, it balances perfectly, you have got back exactly what you were given. No disparity of generosity exists. Yet, we would be upset, because we gave the gift to be used. We are like God in that way. God is not pleased when abilities and resources he has entrusted us with are returned unused, unshared, unmultiplied.

There were two boys. One was a boy who made it a point every time his relatives visited to get out the last gift he had received from them and play with it when they could see. The relatives were pleased to see their gift being used and enjoyed. The other boy took special care to store the gifts in the original box unused but perfectly preserved on the shelf. (Maybe he's a eBay millionaire by now!) But over time, the boy who used the toys got even more toys, because he enjoyed them and the joy was multiplied when the givers saw the joy. The boy with the toys on the shelf got less, because he hadn't even used the ones he had, why did he need more? Want more blessings from God? Then use the ones you have!

Next time you are at the front doors of this building on the church side, look at the year on the cornerstone. 1929. The year the stock market crashed. That financial meltdown took away the financing for this building. Now the congregation could have buried the foundation and just hunkered down at their building on Para, but they didn't. With some arm twisting by the Goodyear, an insurance company financed the building at a reduced amount and up this sanctuary went. What an investment! Not just in this congregation but in the future of Goodyear Heights, Akron and the country. When everything was falling down our spiritual forebearers build up. Look how the use of their talents have multiplied.

Ever come to church and GET MONEY? Well, it happened at least once. As a young pastor I signed a personal note for $500 and gave out $20 “talents” to twenty-five people. The sermon was on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. After inviting a response, I had people sign out $25 to invest for the Lord and return in two months. I bought an Ad with my money and gave computer lessons and help. Others bought ingredients and baked pies for sale, others put up preserves, one did a quilt. One added $25 to his day trading amounts and played the stock market! And yes, one buried the $25 bill and turned it back in, unopened, just like our Bible story.

The money was turned in at the end of the two months and I paid off the note. We also had money left over to give to mission. The most important dividend was in the life of one of the participants. He was working at solid but unfulfilling job, but always wanted to draw. So he bought inks and canvas and created beautiful drawings. His wife saw them and “invested” in him to do more for her talent investment. Her talent was recognizing and encouraging talent in others. They sold well, which encouraged him to quit his day job and become a full time graphic artist! When I left several years later, he was happily using his talent as full time employment!

God gave us talents, personally and corporally to use, not to bury and preserve, but to spend, invest for the growth of his kingdom. Do not fear Don't be afraid to use your talents! God will bless you just as Jesus promises in Matthew 25.

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